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Apr 12, 2011: Anemone pratensis

Anemone pratensis

Preparing for the launch of the redesigned web site has been taking all of my work time and more, so apologies about the too-seldom BPotD entries (particularly since it's spring in many places). As you may note, the www.ubcbotanicalgarden.org web site name is no more, and everything has been moved over to www.botanicalgarden.ubc.ca domain. No links to the old site name should be broken, however -- it should be a seamless transition. In anticipation of upgrading the BPotD software to the latest version for the redesign, the "On This Day" feature has been removed as it is not available for that version. However, I've plans to replace it with "date tags", so if you click on "april-12" in the tag list below the recent entry, you should get the entries from April 12 in all years. Also, should I find a suitable student this summer, one of his/her tasks will be to update older entries to current standards (should mean overall speed and search-by-tag improvements for plant families).

On to today's entry, written by Claire:

beranekp@Flickr from Teplice, Czech Republic, posted this image of Anemone pratensis (syn. Pulsatilla pratensis subsp. bohemica) via the BPotD Flickr Group Pool. Much appreciated beranekp!

Daniel, on nomenclature/classification for this taxon: as noted in this entry, the evidence seems to suggest that all Pulsatilla species should be moved into Anemone. For a discussion on the topic, see the Flora of North America entry for Anemone and the current determination of Anemone pratensis by the systematic botanists at the US Agricultural Research Service. That said, I don't think anyone has published the name Anemone pratensis subsp. bohemica yet, so I couldn't use that for today's entry, though this should be considered as such.

Claire continues: Members of the Ranunculaceae (buttercup family), pasque flowers are a common sight in meadows throughout the world. If considered as Pulsatilla instead of the larger Anemone, there would be about 33 species in the genus. Anemone pratensis is distributed over a broad range of Europe, from as far north as Norway to Bulgaria at its southern limits. The species survives altitudes up to 2100 meters, but it can also be found near sea level. There are four named subspecies of Pulsatilla pratensis (Daniel: see above re: taxonomy): subsp. pratensis, subsp. bohemica, subsp. hungarica (endemic to Hungary), and subsp. nigricans. Subspecies bohemica is an endangered plant in the Bohemian region of the Czech Republic.

All subtaxa of Anemone pratensis are extremely toxic. Somehow utilized in folk medicine for treating eczema, gout and rheumatis, the species can also cause skin infections or affect the central nervous system.

If you're looking to cultivate this perennial, it tends to flower between March and May, and the flowers perched on to-15cm tall stems are a spring favourite of bees. In the summer, plants spread their fluffy achenes with the help of wind.

A nature photography site in Czech has additional photographs: Pulsatilla pratensis subsp. bohemica. More information on Pulsatilla pratensis subsp. bohemica can also be found through Botany.cz (I use translating tools to read these pages).

Apr 6, 2011: Coprosma brunnea

Coprosma brunnea

Before starting today's entry, some of you will have perhaps noticed that most BPotD's are being published late at night recently. We're pushing hard here at UBC Botanical Garden to complete a redesigned web site for next week, so perhaps things will settle down soon. Also, thanks to the kind donations of BPotD readers and UBC Botanical Garden Forums participants, it looks like I'll be able to advertise for a summer work-study position to help with BPotD. Claire Fadul, hired under the winter-spring work-study program (thanks to donations), is helping for a few more weeks. She wrote today's entry:

This beautiful close-up of a Coprosma brunnea berry is courtesy of Liddy2007@Flickr via the Botany Photo of the Day Flickr Pool. Thank you Liddy!

Coprosma brunnea, the aptly-named opal berry, (many Coprosma species also have the nicknames "mirror bush" or "looking-glass bush") is a native of New Zealand. This species is an open, mat-forming, evergreen shrub. The attractive berry is edible, though not considered sweet-tasting. The wood of this species can be used to make yellow dye.

Coprosma shares an intriguing characteristic with a few other New Zealand genera: some Coprosma have a symbiotic relationship with nitrogen-fixing bacteria in the palisade cell layer of leaves, stipules, and domatia. C. Van Hove and A. S. Craig investigated this phenomenon and observed that the symbiosis is not an obligate one (it doesn't have to occur for plant survival).

Coprosma belongs to the Rubiaceae (or madder family. Rubiaceae has a world-wide distribution (though mostly tropical), and with over 600 genera and 13 000 species, it is the 4th-largest family of flowering plant ranked by species diversity. Many Rubiaceae have properties that prevent self-fertilization. In the case of Coprosma brunnea, the species is dioecious (separate male and female plants, so cross-pollination is required). To ensure development of the beautiful fruit in a cultivated environment, it is therefore necessary to have both male and female plants of this wind-pollinated species.

Feb 15, 2011: Camellia japonica × Camellia cuspidata

Camellia japonica × Camellia cuspidata

A BPotD note to start today's entry: you'll have noticed that Claire hasn't had too many entries lately. She's still working on BPotD, though -- she's preparing the entries for the series we do for Celebrate Research week, which involves much preparation work with the professors and graduate students.

To start the series on plants of Japan, frequent Botany Photo of the Day contributor James Gaither, aka J.G. in S.F.@Flickr, shared this image of a Camellia hybrid via the Botany Photo of the Day Flickr Pool. James also has a second close-up photograph of this plant posted to Flickr. Thank you!

I suppose I should add a qualifier to today's entry: this hybrid Camellia is only 50% Japanese origin. Camellia japonica in the wild is native to Japan and South Korea. The other parent of this hybrid, Camellia cuspidata, is widespread across temperate China.

The order of the names of the parent species for this hybrid is important, as it indicates Camellia japonica is the seed parent while Camellia cuspidata is the pollen parent. It's not a natural hybrid, as the two species do not have overlapping ranges, and I doubt it was a chance seedling as the parentage is known. So, this artificial cross was likely made purposefully by a camellia hybridizer, and I'll also guess that UC Berkeley Botanical Garden has the detailed records of its origin. Camellia japonica is often used in Camellia hybridization, with over 2000 cultivars and selections (674 records match in the RHS Plant Finder, which is an indication of how many are available in RHS Plant Finder listed nurseries). However, Camellia cuspidata is rarely used, with only 8 records matching in the RHS Plant Finder.

For further reading, the American Camellia Society has a set of articles on Camellia hybridization.

Lastly, a personal note for BPotD readers in western North Carolina, eastern Georgia and the South Carolina points in-between (or those familiar with the region): I will be visiting your part of the world at the end of April and early May this year, and I'd be interested to hear from you via email about your favourite gardens, parks or botanically-oriented hikes. I am scouting for a group trip in 2012, so even restaurant suggestions for a mid-sized group would be welcome! Thanks in advance!

A lot of thank-yous are in order for today's entry. First of all, thank you to Wouter Bleeker of the Geological Survey of Canada for sending me today's images via email. Wouter is responsible for the first two photographs, and his friend Mike Stubley is the photographer of the third. Also, thank-yous to local bryologists Terry McIntosh (speaker at next week's Cedar Series Lecture) and Steve Joya for their attempts to identify these mosses without having samples in hand (identifying mosses from photographs is nearly impossible without a lot of close-up images). I'll add one more thank-you in the last paragraph of this entry as well.

Since the identifications are tentative, today's entry will instead be about the phenomenon shown in the images, on which Wouter wrote:

"For my field work I am up in the (sub)Arctic quite a bit, and here I attach some pictures of an interesting plant phenomenon: mobile moss or what we jokingly call "galloping moss". These mosses are slowly creeping downhill, probably by daily frost-thaw cycles in spring and fall, and they seem perfectly happy with the movement. I have seen it in different moss species, including Sphagnum (not shown). Sometimes they stall out at a little crack or ridge, like in the first photo, only to start moving again after a while. If the hill side steepens, their leading edges may be overrun by the rest and things get a little messy, but otherwise all is fine. Some other species sometimes seem to catch a ride, as a small Saxifraga species in the second picture (upper right)."

"The most interesting aspect, perhaps, is that they leave this time-dependent trail from where they came, with the surface just vacated, bleached in the sun for 1-2 years or so, nice and clean; further back other algae and lichens slowly start growing back again. I don't know the duration to full recolonization of the rock surface but this could be figured out and calibrated. It is probably on the order of 10-20 years. Just by coincidence, in the first two pictures the moss carpets are growing on stromatolitic limestone, formed by 1.9 billion year old cyanobacterial mats on a shallow, warmish, seafloor. These rocks are now exposed on the East Arm of Great Slave Lake, NWT. The third photo is from further north in the barren lands."

Assuming the species identifications are correct, a few links: Grimmia ovalis (oval dry rock moss) and Niphotrichum ericoides in the Flora of North America, Niphotrichum ericoides (includes close-up photo) via the Natural History of Southeast Alaska, and Grimmia ovalis (with photographs) from the USDA PLANTS database.

On a different topic (and a different thank-you): my gratitude to Edmund Seow, Computer Systems Manager in the Faculty of Land and Food Systems here at UBC, for helping return Botany Photo of the Day (and the rest of the BG web site) back to normal. I think all issues are now resolved, and even though things will be changing again in April with the redesign of the entire UBC BG site, a problem-free web site for the next two months will be a huge relief.

Jan 28, 2011: Hamamelis mollis

Hamamelis mollis

Previously featured on BPotD five years ago, Hamamelis mollis (or Chinese witchhazel) is one of the few dozen or so taxa in bloom in UBC Botanical Garden at the moment (this photograph is from a couple days ago).

This wide-spreading small tree (to ~8m tall) has a native range restricted to China (Hamamelis mollis in Flora of China), where it flowers in the months of April and May. In UBC Botanical Garden, however, it is reliably in full-flower by the end of January.

Additional photographs are available from the University of Connecticut's Plant Database: Hamamelis mollis.

Jan 19, 2011: Mida salicifolia

Mida salicifolia

...and we're back. Sorry for the gap of a few days, it took us a while to sort out some of the issues in the set-up of the software behind the scenes. I hope it's all resolved now, and the biggest issue of photographs not loading should finally be fixed.

Claire wrote today's entry (thanks again, Claire):

A change from flowers for today. Tony Foster (Tonyfoster@Flickr) from Kaeo, New Zealand, provided this photograph (via the BPotD Flickr Pool) of fruit of the small tree, Mida salicifolia. Much appreciated Tony!

A native to the North Island of New Zealand, Mida salicifolia of the Santalaceae is a small tree found in mixed podocarp forests. The Santalaceae contains 44 genera and 990 species and is broadly distributed throughout temperate and tropical regions of the world.

A hemi-parasite like other members of its family, Mida salicifolia parasitizes through its roots, where it steals some nutrients from its host (often the kauri tree, Agathis australis). However, the species is also capable of photosynthesizing and living independently. A well-known example of another hemi-parasitic species in the family is mistletoe.

Maire taiki is the Māori name for Mida salicifolia, but there are several other species of native New Zealand trees bearing the name maire such as maire hau (Leionema nudum)and maire tawake (Syzgium maire). The Māori Dictionary has additional matches for maire. English common names include New Zealand sandalwood and willow-leaved maire.

The leaves of Mida salicifolia are lance-like (salicifolia = "leaves of a willow") and glossy. Its flowers (see photos on link) are quite diminutive in comparison to the size and appearance of the bright red berries (7-12 x 6-8 mm). Often this species is confused at a glance with small trees of Nestegis species (common names also being maire), but can be easily distinguished by looking at the leaf arrangement: Mida salicifolia has alternate leaves while Nestegis spp. have opposite leaves. Additional photographs of the flowers and vegetative parts of Mida salicifolia (and another member of the family, Korthalsella salicornioides can be found on the University of Auckland, Biological Sciences website: Santalaceae.

The New Zealand Plant Conservation Network (also linked above) states that Mida salicifolia is in decline in areas where browsing occurs from introduced mammal species such as goat, possum, and deer. However, it is relatively widespread, and remains particularly abundant on possum-free islands.

Jan 13, 2011: Parnassia fimbriata

Parnassia fimbriata

A bit of BPotD news before today's entry: we finally have a date and time set to transition the web site over to the new server. It's been a real headache for months, but hopefully the pain will be over by mid-week next week. On Monday @ 10am local time, we'll start to move the site over. Unfortunately, since we're also moving to a new server, the web site domain name needs to be pointed to the new server, and that means it may be a couple days before you are able to access content on the new site while the name propagates to the various Internet Service Providers. The old site will still be running for a few days, but comments will be turned off. Fingers crossed that all goes well!

The last time I featured a Parnassia on BPotD (over 5 years ago: Parnassia glauca), I wrote that the genus had been moved out of the Saxifragaceae (you'll see that in many classification systems) and even out of the Saxifragales (the order containing the Saxifragaceae and related families) and into the Parnassiaceae (within the Celastrales). A number of research groups have since studied the relationships between Parnassiaceae and Celastraceae; current thought provisionally places Parnassia within the Celastraceae, but it seems (after reading the Phylogeny section on the linked page) that this may yet revert to being split again.

This August photograph of Parnassia fimbriata (fringed grass-of-Parnassus or Rocky Mountain grass-of-Parnassus) was taken only meters away from a second of British Columbia's four Parnassia species, Parnassia kotzebuei. Parnassia is another genus I am always thrilled to encounter, as it was one of the first dozen or so I learned to recognize in Manitoba.

Parnassia fimbriata is native to much of western North America, where it grows in moist sites (fens, bogs, streamside, seeps, wet meadows) at elevations ranging from lowland to alpine. It is the tallest of these herbaceous species in British Columbia, occasionally reaching 50cm in height (though more typically 15 to 30cm). Parnassia kotzebuei, by comparison, is the shortest, ranging from 6-20cm.

Parnassia is a reference to Mount Parnassus; Linnaeus applied the name to the genus based on an account in Materia Medica, a written work by the Greek physician Dioscorides (Dioscorides called it Agrostis En Parnasso). The Plants for a Future database contains a listing of historical medicinal uses for Parnassia palustris, the species thought to have been described by Dioscorides (who also said of it: "That which grows in Cilicia (which the inhabitants call cinna) inflames rude beasts if often fed on when it is moist".

For additional photographs, see Calphotos: Parnassia fimbriata or Southwest Colorado Wildflowers: Parnassia fimbriata.

Nov 4, 2010: Begonia sizemoreae

Begonia sizemoreae

A bit of Botany Photo of the Day news before today's entry: the move to the new server is taking up a significant amount of time, hence the slowdown in entries. However, it seems so far to be resolving the partially-loading image issue during testing, so that alone will make it worthwhile. On a different note, my identification was incorrect on the previous entry, but it might take a little time before I can revise it.

Today's entry was written by Claire:

Thank you to John B. (aka DCTropics@Flickr) of Washington, DC, USA for this lovely photo of a female flower of Begonia sizemoreae (Botany Photo of the Day Flickr Pool).

Only two genera occur in Begoniaceae: Begonia and Hillebrandia, the latter of which has a single species, Hillebrandia sandwicensis (endemic to Hawaii). Begonia has over 1,400 species and is found across the tropics in the Americas, Asia and Africa (but curiously, not Hawaii).

This particular species, Begonia sizemoreae, is one of over thirty validly described species in Vietnam though there are likely dozens more (ref: Notes on Vietnamese Begonia (Begoniaceae) including three new species (PDF)). The Vietnamese hairy begonia has only recently been described by Dr. Ruth Kiew of Malaysia (if you are a reader interested in begonias, Dr. Kiew has a book out about the Begonias of Peninsular Malayasia).

Begonia sizemoreae, as shown in the photograph, is a monoecious species (having both male and female reproductive organs on the same plant), but is unisexual in that there are separate male and female flowers. Many of us are more familiar with bisexual flowers -- individual flowers with both functional male and female organs. This mechanism Begonia sizemoreae utilizes discourages self-pollination and promotes outcrossing for genetic variability within the population of plants. On the particular flower in the photograph, note the four gorgeous, spiraled stigmas of the female reproductive organ. For pollinators, this presents a challenge as these non-rewarding features very closely resemble the rewarding, pollen-heavy anthers. The insect gets confused from this clever disguise, and in the course of visiting both male and female flowers, pollinates. J.G. in S.F.@Flickr took this photograph of a male Begonia flower from a different species, illustrating the similar appearance of the yellow stamems.

Additional characters of Begonia sizemoreae are visible in the photograph, such as the distinct hairs on the leaf margins that provoke the common name of Vietnamese hairy begonia. Another lovely feature of this species with great ornamental potential is the fruit--a winged capsule containing numerous tiny seeds (photograph also by John B.).

Oct 22, 2010: Solanum hybrid

Solanum hybrid

Thank you once again to Eric in San Francisco (Eric in SF@Flickr) for contributing an image (original) via the BPotD Flickr Pool. Much appreciated!

Before starting with today's entry: it's looking like the garden web site, including BPotD, will be moved to the new server sometime next week (the lack of entries is due to my preparing for the transfer). Fingers crossed that this helps resolves some of the issues we've been experiencing. It won't be Monday, though, as I'm also preparing for my lecture.

Continuing with the "Plant Diversity and Food" series, today's photograph highlights a food long in cultivation in the high Andes of South America (parts of Peru and Bolivia). These tubers are known as "bitter potatoes", and can be either Solanum × juzepczukii (a naturally-occurring hybrid of Solanum acaule and Solanum stenotomum) or Solanum × curtilobum (a cross between Solanum × juzepczukii and Solanum tuberosum subsp. andigena). Domestication is thought to have began approximately 8000 years ago, with particularly extensive use in the past 3000 years.

Bitter potatoes are often grown as a security crop. In comparison to the common potato, they are far more tolerant of the temperatures of high altitudes. From the chapter on tubers in Neglected Crops: 1492 from a Different Perspective: "Recently, in an area of Peru with frosts and temperatures of -5°C, the reduction in the harvest was 5 percent in the case of Solanum × juzepczukii, 30 percent in the case of Solanum × curtilobum and 40 percent in the case of the common potato."

Unlike the common potato, however, they require processing before they can be ingested. Bitter glycoalkaloids are present in the tubers, and these are broken down by processes akin to freeze-drying. For the production of black chuño, the tubers are subjected to a series of night-day cycles consisting of freezing at night and drying in the high-altitude sun during the day. Black chuño is often later rehydrated as a principal constituent of soups and stews. White chuño is a festival food, and it is processed in a more labour-intensive manner involving peeling of the bitter potatoes and storing them in water or constantly spraying them with water before beginning the process of drying. In some instances, geophagy (in this case, the consumption of clay) is also practiced as a means to neutralize the bitter taste of these potatoes (ref: The Cultural History of Plants).

Botany resource link: Eric also sent along the following link to share: the US National Science Foundation's Science Nation online magazine has an article and video on "Science Behind Bars". The article discusses Dr. Nalini Nadkarni's Sustainable Prisons Project, which has a mission to "reduce the environmental, economic and human costs of prisons by training offenders and correctional staff in sustainable practices...we bring science into prisons by helping scientists conduct ecological research and conserve biodiversity through projects with offenders, college students and community partners."

Sep 30, 2010: Hakea cinerea

Hakea cinerea

Thanks to everyone who welcomed Claire yesterday -- I know she appreciates it. We may or may not get another entry from her before I'm away again starting tomorrow, but once we reach mid-October, you'll be seeing a lot more of her writing (this is also when I plan to move the site to the new server).

Today's photograph is courtesy once again of foliosus@flickr, aka Brent Miller of Portland, Oregon. It looks like Brent took a trip recently to Southern Australia, as this image was taken south of Adelaide (original image via the BPotD Flickr Pool. Thank you!

Species of Hakea have twice previously been featured on BPotD: Hakea epiglottis (grown here at UBC) and the brilliant Hakea laurina. Hakea cinerea, or the ashy hakea (or ashy-leaved), is native to Australia, like all of the 150 or so species in the genus. Specifically, it is endemic to Western Australia (the plant featured in the photograph is cultivated in a reserve), where it generally grows within 70km of parts of the southern coastline. A shrub that grows to 2.5m (8ft), it is typically found in swamps, heathland or Mallee woodland, in gravelly or sandy soils.

The specific epithet cinerea means "ash-coloured", a reference to the leaves. Photographs of these are available via the Esperance Wildflowers weblog: Hakea cinerea. Additional photographs of the flowers are available via the Electronic Flora of South Australia: Hakea cinerea.

Sep 29, 2010: Hericium americanum

Hericium americanum

A new author today -- please join me in welcoming Claire Fadul, who will be working as Botany Photo of the Day Assistant from now until April. Claire is a third-year science student. I'm very grateful to those of you who donated to the Online Education fund to help support hiring a student.

Claire writes:

Thank you to swampr0se@flickr from Toronto, Ontario for sharing today's photograph via the Botany Photo of the Day Flickr Pool. I chose this ethereal photograph for my first entry because of how beautiful this fungus is and how intriguing as well (a big nod to swampr0se for the composition). I was very excited when Daniel allowed me to do fungi for my starting articles as they are a secret weakness of mine---secret no more!

Hericium americanum is a tooth fungus. Its common name is bear's head tooth mushroom due to the teeth-like or icicle-like protrusions from which it disperses its spores. swampr0se notes that her particular Hericium americanum was found on a dead maple. This is indeed common among this species as it is usually found on decaying hardwoods (though it can sometimes also be seen frequenting rotting conifers), defining the species as saprotrophic. For a definition of a saprobe, please take a look at MushroomExpert.com where additional facts can be read about this fungus species, including the fascinating story about its various naming problems throughout the years.

Of course you are asking, "Is it edible?" Why yes, it is! And for all you seafood fans out there, it tastes like lobster. I have no experience in this personally, but Tom Volk certainly does, and provides some recipe suggestions in the first paragraph of his article on Hericium americanum. Sadly, for all of our hungry readers around the world, this species can only be found in eastern North America from late summer through autumn. Luckily for local readers, there are a few other species in the genus such as Hericium abietis that can be found. You can check out Edible North American Mushrooms for some cooking suggestions.

Thank you to BPotD readers for your generosity and I look forward to writing to you in the future!

Daniel adds: Botany resource link: Frequent BPotD contributor Eric Hunt sent along a link a few days ago, pointing out a story on Wired Science that uses a photograph by former UBC Botanical Garden and Centre for Plant Research director Dr. Quentin Cronk (photo featured on BPotD): Ancient Fossil Flower Is Father of Sunflower Family.

Sep 17, 2010: Passiflora pinnatistipula

Some Botany Photo of the Day news before today's entry: thanks to the generous (some very generous) donations of BPotD readers, I've been able to hire a student to help with BPotD from now through April. I'll introduce her when she writes her first entries for BPotD the week after next, but I wanted to post an update for those of you who donated. For those of you who wish to donate, there is a button at the top right of every page that allows you to directly support UBC Botanical Garden's online education initiatives. A small bit (a couple hundred dollars) is still needed to finish supporting this position. After that, the next round of donations will support a BPotD student position for next summer. Each dollar given is roughly subsidized the same amount by the university, so a donation of $10 translates to $20 available to hire a student. Thank you again!

The fourth entry in the tropical plant diversity series has photographs courtesy of mdv_graupe@Flickr (aka Michael Graupe) of California, USA (original image 1 | original image 2 | Botany Photo of the Day Flickr Pool). Thank you, Michael!

According to USDA GRIN database, this species is native to Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Chile. However, other references suggest it is perhaps only native to Bolivia, and has since been cultivated elsewhere in South America for its edible fruit (not quite ripe in that photo). Known in Spanish as purotacso, tacso or tintin (and to some indigenous peoples as jampaijhuay, the fruits are sometimes exported to Europe, where they are sold as cholupa or gulupa. Ulmer and MacDouglas, authors of Passiflora: Passionflowers of the World, describe the edible grayish-white pulp of the fruit as being "sweetish to flavorless to slightly sour" and point out that it can be freshly eaten or used in desserts or drinks.

Simply parsed, the epithet pinnatistipula refers to the pinnate (or feather-like) stipules. Michael provides an excellent photoillustration of these in the second photograph (stipules are composed of leaf tissue, link contains info on form and function).

Several previous Botany Photo of the Day entries can be read for additional details about the genus, including Passiflora 'Coral Sea' (you can use the search bar on the right-hand side of the page and find additional entries).

Sep 13, 2010: Furcraea foetida var. mediopicta

Furcraea foetida var. mediopicta

Before the written part of today's entry, a couple comments re: BPotD: you'll likely have noticed fewer entries lately, as well as long load times / stalled loading of images. We've determined that the garden's web server is starting to fail, so I'm trying to minimize the load on the server while we work to replace it (and one way to do so is to reduce traffic to the site). Unfortunately, we're not going to be able to move the whole site to the new server until after I take a couple trips that I had planned months ago. I suspect BPotD will continue to be infrequently published until mid-October (and let's hope the server lasts until then).

This month's biodiversity series is about "Tropical Biodiversity". Thank you to mondomuse@Flickr (aka Robert S. of Venice, California) for sharing today's image via the Botany Photo of the Day Flickr Pool. Much appreciated!

Furcraea foetida, known in English as Mauritius-hemp, giant cabuya or green-aloe, is native to parts of the Caribbean and northern South America. Do note that despite the common names, it is neither an Aloe nor from Mauritius. It's not a hemp, either, though it is used economically for extraction of the natural fibre fique (aka cabuya). The export of species of Furcraea from Brazil by the Dutch to its then-settlement in Mauritius eventually led to that common names.

Furcraea is named after Antoine François, comte de Fourcroy,a French chemist and entomologist. Fourcroy was one of four French collaborators in the creation of a standardized chemical nomenclature.

For additional images of Furcraea foetida, see the extensive image collection of naturalized plants in Hawaii: Furcraea foetida.

Botany resource link: A loose follow-up to the Drosera anglica entry a couple weeks ago: "Meat-eating plants losing ground in U.S.", via The Seattle Times, about the decline of carnivorous plants due to development, poaching and suppression of wildfires.

Aug 24, 2010: Wyethia helianthoides

A brief interlude from the "Plant Biodiversity of China" series (and only a brief entry), since I'm presently concentrating on trying to repair the weblog software after an "upgrade" yesterday morning. I think I have the notification system working (we'll see with this entry, and sorry about the new entry notification yesterday due to a spam comment(!)), but I still have to fix the commenting system -- so, no comments on today's entry or previous entries until that is repaired.

For those of you who have received duplicate notices about today's entry, I apologize. I had to give up on an attempt to "upgrade" the software that runs Botany Photo of the Day because it broke more things than it fixed. So, after publishing today's entry with the upgraded system (and seeing how much it broke), I decided to revert to the old system, with a database backup from Monday at 2am local time (no comments were lost, though, since there hadn't been any). So, while I sort out what to do next, we'll stay on this version of the software for the time being.

Wyethia helianthoides is known as white mule's-ears or white-rayed wyethia, and is native to the northern Great Basin region of the USA. Additional photographs are available from CalPhotos: Wyethia helianthoides and the Malheur Experiment Station: Wyethia helianthoides.

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